Google hasn’t had the greatest of luck in recent months, considering how many times the European Commission has slammed Alphabet Inc. for anti-competitive conduct. Another potentially dangerous option is that Firefox users may experience poorer YouTube performance than Google Chrome users, depending on whether a firm is believed.
For Google, competition isn’t king.
It’s an exciting moment to be google, given that they appear to be shifting away from their former company slogan of “don’t be evil” and toward “don’t be wicked in obviously obvious ways” to the layperson. While it may appear theatrical, they have recently received the European Commission’s most significant penalties ever for alleged fraud.
Mozilla’s technical program manager Chris Peterson recently tweeted about their newest architectural quandary, noting Google’s decision to publish a deprecated API for providing YouTube’s video content. It’s an API only utilized in Chrome due to being left behind by the rest of the browser development community, so this isn’t just an issue aimed directly at Mozilla. Still, it does seem like a pointed decision considering their recent legal difficulties.
It’s bad enough that movies in rival browsers may load up to five times slower than in Chrome. Firefox users may install a browser extension to restore load speeds to pre-redesign levels, but this is the type of repair that only a devoted technology junkie will notice and try to resolve; for regular users, Firefox may appear to be slower than Chrome for no apparent reason.
While this might be attributed to a design flaw, Internet Explorer 11 users are still fed the pre-redesign version of the YouTube site to prevent this issue. If the same precautions were taken for Edge and Firefox users, this would be a completely different issue. Still, this design choice suggests a malevolent edge rather than a simple oversight.
Meanwhile, a Google official noted that Firefox performance metrics were examined and generally equivalent to load times before the change. Microsoft has not reacted to requests for comment on the matter, so it’s unclear whether they’ve communicated with Google about the Polymer makeover or not.
Do the proper thing.
Google’s long-standing “don’t be evil” slogan was altered to “do the right thing” during their corporate transition to Alphabet Inc., in a move that probably doesn’t signify much to most non-corporate followers. Their legal issues have tainted that message in the EU. Their latest antitrust penalties may open the way for the additional competition from firms like Mozilla, given how they will be compelled to modify their pre-packaged app offerings to comply with EU legislation.
However, they have received criticism from firms such as DuckDuckGo. The latter alleged that Google goes out of its way to encourage DuckDuckGo customers to abandon their preferred search engine in favor of Google results. Aside from holding the domain duck.com and redirecting it to Google’s site, it doesn’t appear that the mega-giant tech firm is all that interested in creating the competition they once seemed so eager to provide.
While the services they provide are often more than adequate for daily use, the services we’ve come to rely on also harvest as much data as possible without regard for a user’s privacy and often do so in the face of laws explicitly designed to thwart their data-grabbing reach.
It’s impossible to condemn data collecting and the usage of out-of-date APIs as intrinsically evil. Still, it seems like the goodwill of a corporation that used to mock other firms for abusing their people.
Regardless, Firefox users may recover their YouTube surfing speeds via an extension. There’s a potential that the lousy media attention will compel Google to embrace more current APIs to eliminate the problem. It appears like it’s a matter of when they’ll make the next bizarre anti-competitive decision rather than whether or not they’ll play well.